U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik today announced legislation that would enable the pre-clearance program that more easily allows Canadians to travel to the North Country and Capital Region passed Congress late Friday night. The Senators and Congresswoman explained that the bill they introduced and pushed in Congress, the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act of 2016, would expand U.S. jurisdiction over the American Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents that are operating in Canada, pursuant to border security agreements. Schumer, Gillibrand and Stefanik said this would ensure American citizens and federal government workers are subject to U.S. law and legal protections when working at the pre-clearance location just across the border in Canada, where they would be working to pre-clear passengers traveling on Amtrak’s Adirondack line from Montreal which stops in the North Country and Albany. The Senators and Congresswoman said that, right now, passengers on this line are stopped at the border – oftentimes for more than an hour – while CBP clears the entire train, making the trip longer and a more arduous process. Schumer, Gillibrand and Stefanik said making the trip from Montreal through the North Country and Capital Region would not only boost travel efficiency, but also increase tourism opportunities for local businesses in New York.
“Improving commercial and passenger travel between New York and Canada has been one of my highest priorities for the North Country and Capital Region, which is why I have fought so hard for pre-clearance,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “This legislation holds tremendous potential, not just for the flexibility it can provide for the New York and Canada, but, once implemented, it will also help improve the North Country’s and Capital Region’s economy and tourism opportunities for local businesses for years to come. As Senator, I have been working on pre-clearance with several Administrations – including Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Johnson – and now using this new legislation to implement pre-clearance will be one of the first things I will raise to the incoming Administration.”
“I’m very pleased this legislation has passed the Senate and is heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Making the pre-inspection permanent will make travel across the border more efficient, enhance the security of the transfer of goods and services across the border, boost New York’s economy, and preserve and strengthen our economic ties with Canada.
“This significant, bipartisan legislation is great news for U.S.-Canadian relations and I commend Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their work to get this bill over the finish line,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Increasing commerce with our Canadian neighbors is a top economic priority for our region, which is why I was proud to lead this initiative in the House. This legislation will help build increased economic ties while supporting travel, commerce and tourism between our two nations as well. Furthermore, this legislation will help build integrated defense capabilities to maintain a secure Northern border. Importantly for the North Country, this legislation will facilitate Amtrak service from Montreal through our district, and will reinforce the future of small border crossings by allowing the option of joint operations on one side or the other. This is a landmark piece of legislation for U.S. and Canadian relations and I urge the President to quickly sign it.”
Schumer, Gillibrand and Stefanik said making this program a reality was the critical next step in reducing Amtrak train delays at the Canada-New York border and increasing tourism revenue opportunities for North Country and Capital Region businesses.
Schumer, Gillibrand and Stefanik said providing the legal authority to help make this program possible was the next step in moving toward full implementation of passenger train pre-clearance. By pre-screening passengers and trains on the Canadian side of the border, it will reduce wait times and increase economic opportunities on the American side. The Senators and Congresswoman said this would greatly improve commerce between businesses on both sides of the border.